I had a piece from Faith a short while ago. Thought I should restore balance by letting Leigh have his say.
Leigh: Seems a bit odd, you interviewing me, when you invented me, Stuart.
SA: I know, but I'd like to give my readers a bit more insight.
Leigh: Readers matter, then, do they?
SA: They're the writer's lifeblood. Without them, the whole of the activity would be pretty meaningless.
Leigh: Bit insulting on us characters, isn't it? That attitude, I mean. I do have feelings, you know. In fact, you of all people, should know I have deep emotions.
SA: Fair point, Leigh. But you must also realise that you're a figment of my imagination, whilst the readers are real people. They have to have precedence in the mind and world of the writer.
Leigh: Fair enough. But it still makes me feel a bit like a spare part here. Anyroad, what did you want to know?
SA: Can we first get over the fact that I invented you and therefore know all there is to know about you? I'm not asking these questions for myself but for my readers. Okay?
Leigh: You're the boss.
SA: Perhaps you'd tell us which book you appear in?
Leigh: I'm the male protagonist, you might say 'hero' in that romantic thriller you wrote; Breaking Faith. By the way, I have to thank you for those great women you gave me to interact with. Had a great time with some of them; well, most of them, actually. And…
SA: Sorry to interrupt. It's great you want to talk this way, but I've a couple more questions to ask first, if that's okay?
Leigh: Right fire away. Though this was supposed to my gig…
SA: So it is. But if you could offer me some advice, what would you say to me?
Leigh: Honest, no holds barred?
SA: Express yourself.
Leigh: Well, there were times early on I thought you made me look pretty shallow. Of course, you let me develop as the story developed, but I felt I was perceived as a bit superficial to begin with.
SA: That's because you were being described through the eyes of Faith, and she had a very limited and specific world view.
Leigh: Fair comment.
SA: So, how do you feel about the way readers perceive you at the end of the story?
Leigh: Ah, well, by that time they know a lot more about me. I think I come across as a well-rounded bloke. I mean my initial obsessions, yes, I admit it's obsession, with naked women and sex, is modified by the way I grow to feel about Faith (this won't spoil things for readers who haven't yet read the book, will it?) and people get to know what really drives me, what really matters to me. I know I can come across to some as a bit too keen on getting their knickers off, but I really do love women. I mean, by that, that I love them in all their forms, all their ways. Look at the way a woman's put together. What better design for a living beauty can you imagine? Oh, I know we're all driven by our biological imperative, our need to pass on our genes and ensure they survive, but there's a lot more to it than that.
That's the trouble with the scientists; they reduce everything to rational causes, when we all know that feeling is a vital part of our make-up as well. And I, for one, don't subscribe to the school of thought that says our emotions are nothing more than sublimation of that damned biological imperative. Reducing us to chemical reactions is an insult to the race, don't you think?
As for those bloody godbotherers; well, they make my blood boil. Look, the early human race had no idea about what caused most things to happen. They lived in a world populated by wild and hungry predators, in a world where the climate and the environment were anything but friendly to them. They suffered earthquakes and forest fires, floods and droughts. No wonder they sought some reason for their plight. No wonder they came up with various different deities to explain the inexplicable. In those days, before science and rational thought developed, there was no other way they could make sense of their world.
But to continue these bloody myths into the modern world, when we know so much more about how the world and life work, seems to me to be nothing short of perverse. And, as soon as rational thought became widespread it was only a matter of time before some clever sod would pervert those beliefs in whatever gods were native at the time into methods of controlling the rest of the population. That's what religion is, after all: a control tool for despots and bullies. It's got about as much to do with spiritual wellbeing as a thistle up your arse.
Mind you, that doesn't mean I'm necessarily on the side of the scientists. Seems to me that a lot of what they have to say is open to debate as well. I know the best of them are open-minded and willing to be persuaded. But there's a good few who stick as doggedly to their theories and hypotheses as those bloody godbotherers do to their dogmas. Like to see a bit more doubt, a bit more humility, a bit more of an acceptance that we don't know the answer to everything and probably never will. Bloody good thing, too, if you ask me. I mean, can you imagine the arrogance of a human race that held all the answers? We'd be fucking impossible. It's the worst thing that could happen to us as a race, don't you think?
SA: Well, thank you for that, Leigh. You have some pretty wild ideas, don't you?
Leigh: Wild? I don't think so. But I guess I do get a bit passionate about things that matter to me. Why shouldn't I? The leaders in society, of whatever leaning or calling, have plenty of opportunities to have their say. It's not often the rest of us get a look-in, is it?
SA: If I could just return to the book for a moment? I'd be interested to know how you came to employ that sod, Mervyn?
Leigh: Ah. Merv the perv. In many ways I was as guilty of attempted conversion with him as Faith was with me in the initial days and weeks. I took him on for practical reasons: my workload was such that I couldn't afford to spend as much time in the darkroom as I needed to turn out the work I was producing. Merv had a natural skill with the chemical and physical processes. He'd absolutely no imagination, of course, but he was able to follow my lead and soon learned what I did and didn't need from him. Let's be honest, as a man he was a bastard, but as a printer…well, I'd never have found a better one. Once I'd got him in Longhouse, I tried to work on him and change his attitude to women, people in general, I suppose. Waste of time, of course, but that was my hope and intention.
SA: And your attitude to glamour photography; how did Faith influence that?
Leigh: Initially, I thought she was just a prude with some distorted view of nudity gleaned from her upbringing by that shithouse, Heacham. But when I really thought about what she had to say, she actually made sense. As you know, I stopped doing the glamour work completely and only did full nudes after that. Like Faith said, real art requires absolute honesty. I've her to thank for showing me that truth.
SA: Well, Leigh, thank you for your time and your thoughts. It's been most interesting.
Leigh; You're welcome. I hope the readers have got something out of it. Maybe some of them will understand where I'm coming from a bit better, eh?
SA: Perhaps. Let's hope they comment and then see what they say, shall we?
Why do people believe you when you say there are over four billion stars, but check when you tell them the paint is wet?